Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  
Star City

Income tax too much for young architects

The Institute of Architects Bangladesh has expressed deep concern on the mandatory income tax imposed by the finance minister in this year's national budget.

"It is not rational to impose mandatory income tax on young architects just to fill the deficit of revenue income caused by the dishonesty of tax payers," said Mubassher Hossain, the president of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) at a recent meeting.

Speakers at the meeting stressed that architecture is a profession based on mental labour. The scope for architects is also very limited in this country.

People have only started to recognize the importance of architectural planning. A mandatory minimum of Tk 12,000 in income tax on all architects will create a barrier for the development of this growing profession.

Though the IAB sets a guideline for architects' fees, it is not maintained because of lack of government legislation.

"We don't have any legislative status and there is no enforcement by the government regarding our fees. If there was a fixed percentage we would be able to charge the client accordingly," said Mahfil Ali, a partner of Ingrid Architect.

Every year at least 100 graduate architects graduate from the country's universities and many more from diploma courses. Fifty per cent of architects are women. But many architects, both men and women remain unemployed.

Therefore, many change professions. "Newly graduated architects on average get a monthly income of Tk 6,000 at an private architectural firm, and it does not rise much. Because of the low wages, architects commonly switch their profession to photography, painting, interior design and fashion designing," said Rumana Rasheed, who is studying for a Masters degree in architecture at BUET.

Young architects must remain candidate members of IAB for two years before they can get full membership. Architects also require membership of Rajdhani Unnayan Kortipakhkha (RAJUK) for the signing authority needed to pass their designs by RAJUK.

But there is no comprehensive legislation that enforces or monitors an architect's involvement in the design of a building. "Customers could easily design the building themselves or use any draftsman and get a signature from an architect," explained freelance architect, Khaled Saifullah Shagar.

The speakers also said that in a situation where less than five per cent of buildings are not designed by qualified architects, the mandatory income tax on young professionals will destroy the profession as a whole.

The newly imposed income tax could drive even more young architects out of an already difficult market. Photo: Alasdair Macdonald